There are many ways to become a registered nurse. Getting your BSN is just one of those options. While you don’t need your BSN to be a nurse, here are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider it if you are just beginning your education or even if you’ve been a nurse for a while and are wondering if you should advance your education.
The Trend in Nursing
Since 2010, there has been a trend in the nursing profession to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Research suggests that nurses educated a higher level can achieve better patient outcomes in addition to providing benefits to employers. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a report, Charting Nursing’s Future, that makes the case for nurses advancing their education because of various changes in the healthcare system, such as nurses taking on roles as leaders and participants of interprofessional health initiatives, and the shifting role of nurses in disease prevention and management of patient care, especially in community health settings. For this reason, setting your goal to earn your BSN puts you in line with the current professional trends.
When I took my NCLEX and became a RN, no one ever asked me about the degree program that got me there (it was an Associate’s degree program, in case you were wondering). However, as I began to gain experience and look for opportunities to expand my career, I found that many positions beyond bedside nursing were requiring nurses to have at least a BSN degree.
If you haven’t started your educational journey, it can be tough to decide what nursing specialty you want to pursue or if you ever want to consider nursing professions at higher levels, such as management or faculty. But having your BSN can open many opportunities for you without having to return to school to get an advanced degree to get you there. If you are already a nurse, deciding to go back to school and getting your BSN can make you competitive for these expanded positions. This is how I got my advanced degree. Once I knew I wanted to work with nursing students, I knew that getting my BSN, and eventually my MSN, was needed if I wanted to make those goals a reality.
No, you do not need your BSN to become a nurse. There are many educational pathways to successfully get you prepared for the NCLEX and to your goal of becoming a nurse. However, with current professional trends and the opportunities provided by a higher degree, getting a BSN is worth considering if you are just beginning your educational journey or you are a nurse looking to propel your career to the next level.